Those beards aren’t coming off yet.
Chris Kaman scored a season-high 26 points and the unshaven Mavericks boosted their faint playoff hopes with a 96-91 victory over the slumping Blazers.
Kaman added 11 rebounds for the Mavericks, who were 2 1/2 games back of Utah for the 8th and final spot in the Western Conference, and 2 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers. Dallas (38-39) has just 5 games left, but 4 of those are at home.
Led by veteran Dirk Nowitzki, a handful the Mavericks have been growing out their beards since early February, vowing not to shave until they reach .500 and make the playoffs. Kaman is among them.
”I’m not sure how excited everyone else is about it because I don’t think they like how it looks,” he said. ”But I’m not really thinking about it because it’s important for us to finish the season on a good note and we have the next 5 games to do that.”
The Mavs controlled by as many as 26 points, but the Portland Trail Blazers closed the opening in the 4th quarter – even after sitting most of their starters.
Rookie Will Barton came off the bench with 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Portland Trail Blazers, who have lost 8 directly for their longest losing streak since the 2005-06 season.
Portland (33-44) was eliminated from the playoffs after Friday night’s 116-98 loss to the Rockets.
Rookie Damian Lillard’s layup narrowed Dallas’ lead directly to 88-80 with 4:48 left. The Blazers pulled closer at 88-83 on Barton’s jumper. Odds
O.J. Mayo and Shawn Marion had consecutive baskets to slow Portland’s momentum, but Eric Maynor’s layup and a couple of free throws got the Portland Trail Blazers within 94-91 with 39 seconds left.
After Mayo missed a 3-pointer on the other end, Lillard’s attempted layup with 6.9 seconds to go did not fall. Marion scored at the buzzer for the final margin.
”We’re one of those teams letting other teams back in so it was kind of frustrating, but we’re lucky there wasn’t much time left on the clock because I think it may have been a different game,” Kaman said.
Barton’s breakout performance had the Portland Trail Blazers in an upbeat mood following the game, regardless of the loss. Barton had 18 points and 11 rebounds in the 2nd half alone.
Barton, who was a 2nd-round pick by the Blazers out of Memphis, was brimming confidence. Portland was without starting forward Nicolas Batum for the 3rd straight game because of a sore right shoulder. Victor Claver started in his place.
Elton Brand missed his 3rd straight game for the Mavericks with a sore right calf.
The Mavs went up 13-3 early and Kaman took over with 12 points in the opening 6 minutes alone. His short jumper late in the 2nd quarter gave Dallas a 46-24 lead.
The Portland Trail Blazers were stung when guard Wesley Matthews was helped off the court with a right ankle injury with 8:27 left in the second quarter. The extent of the injury wasn’t immediately known but Matthews was on crutches following the game.